Winds of change

Sep 11, 2009

Wind farms can be self-sustaining, concluded two Northeastern finance professors in a recent journal article. A few measures to increase productivity and decrease equipment costs could reduce the current dependence on government subsidies and incentives designed to make wind farms viable.

The Northeastern researchers contend that could be self-sustaining operations even if the current governmental production tax credit, which pays 1.9 cents per kilowatt-hour, were eliminated. Their work appeared in the May 2009 issue of Renewable and Reviews.

Anand Venkateswaran, assistant professor of finance and insurance, and Jonathan Welch, a member of the business faculty from 1977 until his death in 2009, collected and analyzed 15 years of data from approximately sixty 100-turbine wind farms. Noting that a productive wind farm generates electricity 40 percent of the time, or 12 days a month, Venkateswaran suggested that increasing to 53 percent, or 16 days a month, would eliminate the need for subsidies typically needed to keep such operations afloat.

“There are a couple of ways that production could be increased,” he added. “Lighter blades on the turbines would be one way to improve efficiency; siting farms in windier spots would be another.” And the profitability of wind farms could also be improved if the cost of turbines, which averages approximately $3.2 million per unit, were reduced, he said.

While the researchers noted that key questions remain about whether wind energy is financially sustainable without “extensive” governmental support to create and nurture the overall growth of the industry, they concluded: “Wind energy can provide the best of both worlds. It is sustainable from an environmental perspective and it is becoming sustainable financially.”

Provided by Northeastern University (news : web)

Explore further: Morocco raises 1.7 bn euros for solar plants

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Government blocks wind farm plans

Jun 01, 2006

The U.S. government has ordered work stopped on more than a dozen wind farms, saying the giant turbines might interfere with military radar.

Winter shutdown approved for wind farms

Sep 24, 2005

To reduce bird deaths, some 4,000 aging wind turbines in California will be idled temporarily, and some will be scrapped and replaced with newer models.

Tilting at wind farms

Jan 07, 2009

A way to make wind power smoother and more efficient that exploits the inertia of a wind turbine rotor could help solve the problem of wind speed variation, according to research published in the International Journal of ...

Engineer aims to regulate varying wind power

Oct 19, 2007

As Texas' electric grid operator prepares to add power lines for carrying future wind-generated energy, an electrical engineer at The University of Texas at Austin is developing improved methods for determining ...

Recommended for you

The state of shale

12 hours ago

University of Pittsburgh researchers have shared their findings from three studies related to shale gas in a recent special issue of the journal Energy Technology, edited by Götz Veser, the Nickolas A. DeCecco Professor of Che ...

Website shines light on renewable energy resources

Dec 18, 2014

A team from the University of Arizona and eight southwestern electric utility companies have built a pioneering web portal that provides insight into renewable energy sources and how they contribute to the ...

Better software cuts computer energy use

Dec 18, 2014

An EU research project is developing tools to help software engineers create energy-efficient code, which could reduce electricity consumption at data centres by up to 50% and improve battery life in smart ...

Cook farm waste into energy

Dec 17, 2014

It takes some cooking, but turning farm waste into biofuels is now possible and makes economic sense, according to preliminary research from the University of Guelph.

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

jerryd
not rated yet Sep 19, 2009

A far better way is put them on homes, small business where there is no land, transmission line, overhead or stockholder costs.

Now add the fact customers pay much more than utilities do the payback is 2-3x's faster.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.